Scituate selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to award a contract for conducting an acoustical study of the Scituate Wind turbine to Epsilon Associates as an independent consultant.
The Maynard-based company has performed similar testing in Massachusetts, and other states, and has worked with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to Al Bangert, special projects director.
“This has been something we discussed last fall and has taken quite a bit of time to bring to this point,” he said.
The 400-foot wind turbine was installed in its spot on the Driftway in early spring 2012. Shortly after it went online, people in the neighborhood began to complain about the noise and the flicker associated with the turbine.
As a result, the Scituate Board of Health began tracking noise complaints from neighbors of the turbine.
Complaints usually occurred at night in the late spring, summer and early fall, with most complaints coming from the southwest at less than 10 mph, Scituate Health Agent Jennifer Keefe has said.
Last October, after hearing complaints from residents living near the turbine about the noise, selectmen asked for an acoustical study be done to determine if it was operating in compliance with the DEP Division of Air Quality Noise Regulations.
“After consulting with the DEP, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was developed, posted and advertised in January 2018,” Bangert said. “Copies of the RFP were sent to 11 firms.”
Three responses were received by the March 6 due date. Of these, two were incomplete and the third was defective.
“A second RFP was issued in March and four responses were received in late April,” Bangert said.
The four responses were evaluated on the following criteria: experience with field testing, familiarity with Massachusetts DEP testing protocol, methodology for monitoring wind conditions, task understanding, and qualifications of staff.
“Two firms were assessed to be acceptable – Epsilon Associates, which was rated superior, and ACENTECH, which was rated adequate,” Bangert said.
The fee for Epsilon to perform the testing is $50,000. ACENTECH’s fee was $52,650.
The cost for the study would be paid for by the Wind Turbine Revolving Account, which is funded exclusively by revenue from the turbine’s operation, Bangert said.
“Payment would not come from the general fund or the taxpayers,” he said.
Resident David Dardi, who has said he’s been negatively affected by the noise from the turbine, expressed concern over the choice of awarding Epsilon the contract, pointing out that some employees of the firm had worked for an engineering firm the turbine owners had used for previous tests.
Selectmen Chairman John Danehey said that in any industry it comes down to a matter of trust of an individual, to which Bangert agreed.
“Epsilon is the go-to firm in this field,” he said. “They have been in the industry longer.”
Once the contract is signed, Bangert said Epsilon would set up a kick-off date where they will evaluate several sites to be considered for the testing. It could take some time to determine when exactly the wind conditions would exist to take the test.
’It could be complicated to get those wind conditions, but they have already done this in Massachusetts under the DEP,” he said. “They know what they’re doing, they know the law.”